In physics there is the phenomenon where the closer a traveler comes to the speed of light, the more separate one’s “time” becomes from the traveler’s place of origin. Einstein imagined time while riding a beam of light as if it were a train and concluded that time is relative.
In the physics of biology and social change, identity is a variable that, like time, can change. What is necessary to be able to trace transformations in identity is a model of biological and social evolution that embraces consciousness or awareness as a default feature of the system. This is quite different from our present predilection to presuppose that the underlying system does not exhibit consciousness or awareness. Note the works of contemporary, respected evolutionary psychologists Dawkins, Dennett and Miller. There is an assumption built upon an allegiance to natural selection being the only necessary process to drive evolution. That assumption is that because god is not necessary for evolution, god does not need to exist. All three are atheists.
Identity is changing. And, like the rider on a light beam, we have a difficult task to evaluate the relativistic nature of our experience without access to an alternative landscape. We need someplace to place our feet.
“Instant speeds abolish time and space, and return man to an integral and primitive awareness.” (Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, p. 152)
The shift in awareness is not just a shift backward as McLuhan proclaims. Yes, a powerful feature of this identity shift is one where the commons becomes highly valued and contribution to the community is revered. A feature of aboriginal consciousness is a definition of one’s self as a member of a community. Yet, something new is being engaged. The communities of our youth are far more than the few people in a local tribe. Hundreds, if not thousands, of self-selected individuals, folks connected to massive self-selected networks of their own, are coming together.
“At present the mechanical begins to yield to organic unity under conditions of electric speed. Man now can look back at two or three thousand years of varying degrees of mechanization with full awareness of the mechanical as an interlude between two great organic periods of culture.” (p. 152)
Speed transforms. Eliminate space and time as we are doing now in our massive, horizontal, transparent, barrierless social media relationships and we eliminate features of our own identity. At the same time that we are individually selecting the participants in our unique social universe, we are also universalizing our experiences by propelling individual experience into a shared space. We each are becoming artists of our individuality, relying upon the medium of our friends. We are painting that which makes us unique with colors characteristic of the features of electronic allies.
“As the speed of information increases, the tendency is for politics to move away from representation and delegation of constituents toward immediate involvement of the entire community in the central acts of decision.” (p. 204)
We are moving at the speed of light away from the society of alienation toward an online community characterized by integration. Whereas before we featured an identity that focused on the separateness characteristic of an experiential model that emphasized only arbitrary interconnection, we are moving into a new presuppositional matrix that is characterized by shared identity. Everything changes. Politics will transform to reflect a populace that assumes an ability of individuals within communities to effect outcomes. Evolutionary theory will adjust to embrace features of life and society characterized by environmental influence, integration and systemic wholes.
“A newspaper headline recently read, ‘Little Red Schoolhouse Dies When Good Road Built.’ One-room schools, with all subjects being taught to all grades at the same time, simply dissolved when better transportation permitted specialized spaces and specialized teaching. At the extreme of speeded-up movement, however, specialism of space and subject disappears once more.” (p. 346)
That feature of society where professionals control information is an aspect of society that is coming down. From academicians to traditional media practitioners, the proliferation of the horizontal impetus demands that information be free. Eliminate barriers and you eliminate the comodification of information. As personal experience features shared experience, our identity shifts to both an aboriginal and transaboriginal space. In effect, each of us, reengaging our inner aboriginal, also becomes the god of aboriginals with access to almost infinite information.
Einstein discovered time is relative. So is consciousness. It is necessary to presuppose that consciousness exists to be able to observe it changing. Our children are transforming before our eyes. Identities are shifting. We’re going to need a new word for god to be able to understand what we are seeing. There is no longer a need for mythology to illuminate. We only have to believe our eyes.